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Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and whether you personally view the season of hearts as the most romantic time of the year, filled with love and affection, or an annual catastrophe of tacky décor and extravagant gifts; there’s no question that it can have a positive effect on business.
In America, Valentine’s Day is the second largest retailing event of the year and has, quite reasonably, been criticised as just an excuse for frantic commercialism.
While this sentiment may be true, few consumers seem to be dissuaded from opening their wallets for the 14 February.
The National Retail Foundation has found that when it comes to spending in the name of love, it’s not the thought that counts — it’s the price tag.
In the NRF’s 2011 Valentine’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, Americans were predicted to spend US$1.7-billion on flowers, US$1.5-billion on candy and US$3.4-billion at romantic restaurants. The average person would dish out US$116.21 on typical Valentine’s Day merchandise, up 12.8% over 2010’s US$103.00 average. US$3.5-billion was to be spent on jewellery, up from an estimated US$3-billion in the previous year, with total holiday spending reaching a hefty US$15.7-billion.
Obviously not all sectors will benefit equally from additional sales during this retail love-fest, but many still can. It’s just a case of knowing how.
Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to re-ignite relationships with customers and remind them that they are at the forefront of your mind and that you understand their needs and desires.
One of the best ways to take advantage of the potential profitability is through an email campaign, which is an effective way to bring tailored messages to specific audiences.
The reality is that Valentine’s Day has also become one of the most competitive in emailing, as recipients’ inboxes are stuffed with look-alike offers from various retailers and spammers. This means that a lot of it will likely be ignored with all the red-hot email overload, which is why smart marketers need to rise above mediocrity, using Cupid’s arrows to target prospects and move them to action.
Here are four things you could do to make sure that you get some extra love from your subscribers this Valentine’s Day
1. Send ‘fe-mails’ to Venus and ‘mails’ to Mars
There are lots of people out there ready and willing to part with their cash to buy the ultimate Valentine’s gift, but even if you have the perfect product, one single offer may not be appropriate for all the members of your audience.
You want to present the right message to the right people. For example; you won’t want to send an email with masculine products to the men on your list, since that would defeat your efforts.
So to work around this issue, Valentine’s is a great time to try list segmentation. You can do this by separating your subscriber list by gender and then sending female-oriented offers to the guys and male-oriented offers to the ladies. Having segments for new customers and those who’ve made purchases before can also play a big role in the type of messaging you have in your campaign.
You can send a special email to people who bought from you last year around Valentine’s Day with an even better offer for this year. If they had a good experience last time round, present them with an exclusive deal and they will most likely buy from you again.
Barbara Ulmi, Marketing Manager of a major international email service provider says: “It’s important to take the time and effort to get the perfect emails written for each segment of your list, not just in terms of the products they contain, but also in terms of the tone. The playful, boyish approach that often puts men at ease fails with women; who may prefer something more sincere and heartfelt.”
2. Woo them with romantic ideas
How many times have you wondered and worried over what you’re going to do for your Valentine’s Day?
Men are perennially spending more than women during Valentine’s, and often have a tough time coming up with ideas of what to buy and where to go; making them highly receptive to suggestion and easy to influence.
You can draw their attention by doing the homework for them and, for example, providing a list of the top 10 best Valentine’s Day gifts or dates. Tie this to your own offering by sending out a Valentine’s Day newsletter filled with specials and information about which products you think will make for an unforgettable evening. These could be centered round your top selling items from last year — which already have a proven track-record — or the ones you currently want to promote.
If all else fails suggest a gift card purchase option for customers who are stumped or can’t decide.
3. Get dressed for Love
The first order of business is, of course, getting your customers in the mood for Valentine’s Day, and this starts with your creatives.
A great Valentine’s themed email template will not only boost their enthusiasm about the celebration, but maybe even your sales. If you use a good balance of Valentine-specific copy and images, subscribers will begin to get thinking about the event and will want to look directly at what you have to offer for it.
This is a very simple, but important step. Changing appearances could even be all you need to do to in practical term to improve your sales.
If you don’t have time to come up with a new look, there are still other options. Think back to the Valentine’s emails you received 12 months ago; do you remember what any of them looked like in clear detail? Probably not, and the same should be true for your subscribers.
So if your schedule is too tight, you can even re-use stock images and certain texts from last year, as long as you are repeating the resources on your site and landing pages to keep the feel consistent.
4. Double-team your subscribers
Let’s say you sell a Valentine-friendly product like flowers, but are unsure about marketing on your own. Maybe your business is fairly new and you don’t have a big customer list yet, or suppose your goods or services aren’t Valentine’s Day oriented at all — what do you do?
In these cases the time may be ripe for a commercial ménage à trois. Start new romances, find and partner with complementary companies to sweeten the deal.
Love certainly is in the air during the month of February, and this is also a wonderful opportunity for co-operation between small businesses and some inter-corporation philandering.
You can make life so much easier for the shopper who doesn’t want to sift through stacks of emails to deal-hunt for truffles, flowers, diamond necklaces, edible underwear and romantic outings individually.
Try adding extra value to lure Valentine’s spenders by partnering with a vendor who provides services that are a good accompaniment to your own.
For example: When a restaurant and flower shop team up they can have a surprise bouquet of flowers ready at the table when the customer and his or her partner arrives. When a spa service and a jewelry shop combine their offerings, clients can get a “free” massage when they buy a piece of Valentine’s jewelry. Specialty food stores can do wine and chocolate pairings depending on what they have in stock, selling the products as a gift package in either location and splitting the profits.
If you’re having trouble with creating an enticing Valentine’s offer as a stand-alone business, the possibilities for combining products and services are endless and may be your best solution… as long as you are willing to share the love.